Abdullahi Abdi, a member of the Minnesota Uber/Lyft Drivers Association, sits in the vehicle he uses to ferry passengers across the Twin Cities metro area. Abdullahi attended an information meeting on August 2, 2023, about a proposed rideshare ordinance in Minneapolis. Credit: Aaron Nesheim | Sahan Journal

Uber and Lyft drivers advocating for a Minneapolis ordinance that would increase their pay and improve workplace conditions will have to wait until the new year, according to City Council members who are pushing for the measure.

In a joint statement issued Tuesday, Council Members Robin Wonsley, Jamal Osman, and Jason Chavez said movement on their two proposed rideshare ordinances would continue into next year in order to give city staff time to look at different options for how to pay drivers more. The announcement comes as dissent grows in a rideshare organization that has been integral to pushing for improvements.

Wonsley said she wanted to resolve the issue this year after a similar measure in the state Legislature was vetoed by Governor Tim Walz in May, and after Mayor Jacob Frey vetoed the City Council’s first rideshare ordinance in August.

Wonsley, Osman, and Chavez said in their joint statement that they introduced a legislative motion this week asking city staff to analyze three “minimum compensation models” for how to pay rideshare drivers. This comes after Frey and an unidentified council member shared their own proposals for paying rideshare drivers, according to the statement.

This analysis will be presented to the council at a January 19 meeting.

“We have decided to do our due diligence and evaluate all three proposed minimum compensation models in a side-by-side analysis so that Council and the public can have clarity on which model gets drivers closest to a minimum wage equivalent,” said the statement from Wonsley, Osma, and Chavez.

The City Council initially passed a rideshare ordinance in August that would have guaranteed drivers a minimum compensation of $0.51 per minute and $1.40 per mile while they were transporting customers within city boundaries. The compensation would have increased annually proportional to the city’s minimum wage. 

That ordinance was vetoed by Frey, who said he supported improved wages and workplace conditions for rideshare drivers, but wanted to analyze more data before making a decision.

Wonsley, Chavez, and Osman came back in September with two new proposed rideshare ordinances. Wonsley’s office told Sahan Journal at the time that the new ordinances could be up for a vote in October before the full council, but the two proposed ordinances were instead referred on October 10 to city staff.

Wonsley, Chave, and Osman are now introducing the following three payment options for analysis:

  • Model A (Original proposal): A minimum compensation rate of $1.40 per mile and $0.51 per minute for the time transporting a customer.
  • Model B (Mayor Frey’s proposal): A minimum compensation rate of $1.17 per mile and $0.34* per minute for the time transporting a customer.
  • Model C (Alternative proposal): A flat rate of $24 per hour, applied only during time on the way to pick up a customer or during the time transporting a customer.

Uber and Lyft both lobbied against the state bill and the first Minneapolis ordinance. They threatened to limit operations across the state if the bill became law, and later threatened to cease operations in Minneapolis if the city ordinance was enacted.

Infighting among rideshare drivers

Before Walz’s veto, members of the Minnesota Uber/Lyft Drivers Association (MULDA) rallied inside the Capitol building calling for the governor’s support.

Weeks after his veto, Walz announced the members of a legislative rideshare task force that will recommend policy changes for next year’s legislative session. Eid Ali, then president of MULDA, was named to the task force as a representative for drivers.

But MULDA has struggled in recent months. Mohamed Egal, a MULDA member, told Sahan Journal that the group recently split in two due to infighting. He said he’s leading some members of MULDA while Eid leads other members of the group.

Mohamed said he and some MULDA members believe Eid made decisions that didn’t align with their wishes. They also believe Eid is unwilling to negotiate with Uber, Walz, or Frey, Mohamed said. 

“This problem could have been solved easily, but Eid was not listening to us and he was not listening to anybody,” Mohamed said.

Eid did not return messages from Sahan Journal seeking comment.

Mohamed said drivers still support the governor’s task force even though they don’t see themselves represented among the task force’s members. 

Drivers claiming to be a part of MULDA interrupted an October meeting of Walz’s task force and asked for new representatives, claiming that Eid did not represent them anymore.

The Governor’s Office told Sahan Journal there have been no changes to the task force’s members.

MULDA has long competed against the Minnesota Rideshare Drivers Association (MRDA) for drivers’ support and participation.

Both groups are composed of mostly East African drivers, but their approaches have been different. MULDA has focused on policy change through elected officials on the city and state level, while MRDA has met with Uber directly, and has at times spoken out against the proposed ordinances in Minneapolis.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Uber announced new features and policies to help drivers facing “deactivations,” which is when the rideshare company shuts down a driver’s account, preventing them from working. 

Deactivations were a major issue with Minnesota rideshare drivers who advocated for the state bill that was vetoed. They said drivers who were deactivated had no route to contest the measure, which sometimes occurred when riders got upset with drivers who were enforcing rules. 

Uber said it’s rolling out a process that allows drivers to see why their account was deactivated, and gives drivers the ability to request an additional review of the decision. The rideshare company also committed to protecting drivers from false allegations and unfair ratings that could lead them to having their account deactivated.

*CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated Mayor Jacob Frey’s proposed compensation rate.

Alfonzo Galvan is a reporter for Sahan Journal, covering work, labor, small business, and entrepreneurship. Before joining Sahan Journal, he covered breaking news and immigrant communities in South Dakota,...